How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE

#BlogBattle Week 13


Another week has whizzed by. I don’t believe it either.

This week’s prompt is …rope… + up to only 1,000 words

For details, check out

To Plant a Rose

Stubborn as cement, the clay refused to budge. Stella stamped her feet. In minutes, trails of perspiration had invaded uninvited places all over her body. Smacking the spade to the ground, she swiped her dripping brow, fascinated with the moisture collected there, then rubbed it against her shorts. Why does this have to be so hard? Either it rains buckets or doesn’t rain at all.

“What are you doing?”

Stella jerked to attention with a yelp, short of tripping over the shovel. “You’re awake.” She flicked an eye over her husband, The Mathematician, clad in slippers and ratty bathrobe, and flinched. At least he’d poured himself a coffee.

“What are you doing?” It’s hot already.” He tightened the belt of his robe, but exposed his salt and pepper chest.

“I need to plant this rose before it dries up…”

“So what’s the problem? Let me.” As her husband advanced on her, Stella shuffled backwards, eyes blinking, a hand to her throat. He drove the spade into the ground with surprising force, but it ricocheted out of his hands. The handle shot into his face. He growled and back-peddled, a hand to his cheek. “Forget it. Can’t be done.”

Stella covered her mouth and nose stifling overpowering giggles. “Maybe we’ll have more success if you tried a foot farther down on either side, or behind.”

The Mathematician rubbed tender hands together, which had never met a blister, now as red as his face. An engorged vein in his neck pulsed and appeared on the verge of exploding. He flicked sweat out of his eyes. “It’s too hot. I’m taking a shower.” He tightened the belt of his robe and shuffled down the driveway like an old man.

Stella smirked. I wonder why he thought to help today? His hands have only known a pencil at worst, or his computer at best. She bent to wipe her forehead with her t-shirt. Hair soaked through, she shook it hard, then picked up the shovel. One more try. This time the spade slipped into the earth with less resistance, though only half-way down the blade. She wrinkled her nose at the sour smell of the clay and repositioned a couple scoops of earth. Her third swing hit rock and bounced back in her hands. Ow! On her knees she felt with her hands for the rock to judge its size. “Too big to dig out.”

“Kinda hot isn’t it? Want some help?” The neighbor’s son on the far side leaned against the stone wall, which separated their backyards. Shaded by their cherry tree, he readjusted the red baseball cap he wore backwards.

“Hi, George. I think I’ll go in for a while. It’s hotter than an inferno, isn’t it?”

He wiggled his wiry black uni-brow. “I can loosen some of that clay with my steel spike. I’ll be right over.”

Stella wiped her face with her t-shirt again and wrung it out, sunk deeper over her heels. The 20-something neighbor’s son ambled up the driveway with what appeared an old-fashioned spear. “Show me where.” His cheeks dimpled as he smiled down at her.

Stella explained about the rock. “Anywhere here, either farther left or right. At least a foot deep and about eighteen inches wide.

George poked the ground looking for a soft spot. He stopped and cocked his head.

“What?” She reared up then, her brow pleated.

“I hit something. Feels weird.” He grabbed the spade and worked fast. Green plastic, like the corner of a garbage bag, poked out of the dirt. They gawked at each other. George scraped at the dirt by layers, but the handle slipped and the point ripped through the plastic. A putrid odor wrapped itself around them. They saw the rope wrapped around the garbage bag. “I think we need to call the police.” He stumbled away from the suffocating stench.

“What do you think it is?” Stella’s voice quaked.

“Don’t know.” George’s face and ears flushed crimson, his forehead glistened with dripping sweat, t-shirt soaked through. “Doesn’t look good.”

“Pull up a chair. I’ll make the call and bring out some lemonade.”

He sank into a lounge chair, and flung the spade to the ground.

* * *

They’d moved their chairs deeper into the garden. The cherry tree provided little shade now; the garage provided little more. Each slurped lemonade as the ice melted in the jug. Fifty-three minutes after the call, a lone officer ambled into the backyard. The cavity in the garden grabbed his attention. He passed beneath the arbor and the reek from the hole slapped him in the face.

Stella and George sprang up, her husband’s face a putrid green, rose slower. Everyone talked at once and then stopped. Stella told her story, ran out of breath, and George finished.

“What do you suppose it is?” She led the way to the hole, but stayed back from the smell and covered her nose.

The policeman, hands behind his back didn’t move any closer either. “Don’t worry. It’s not human remains. The odour is sweet like an animal, probably a dog.”

“You’re sure? Why bind the bag with rope?”

“Didn’t want to hold it, maybe.”

“What do we do with it? Will you take it away?”

“Me? Oh no. Call animal control or put it out for trash pickup.” He took out his notebook and pen, tipped his cap and was gone.

“The Mathematician found his voice. “I’m not touching that thing. Call animal control. I’m going inside.”

“I’ll throw more dirt on the hole to keep nosy animals away and cover the reek.”

Stella nodded. Thanks, George. All I wanted was to plant a rose. Creepy. Hope the cop is right and it’s not human remains.”

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

43 thoughts on “#BlogBattle Week 13

  1. I don’t know what intrigues me more…the husband and wife back story, the you neighbors story or what’s in the bag and how got in their yard. I love mysteries.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That got my curiosity going, very mysterious. Great stuff, Tess 🙂


  3. Wow, you had me sitting on the edge of my chair! Always so good Tess. 🌸


  4. Oooo…love the mystery going on in the back story.


  5. I have to agree about the untold story between the husband and wife. There is a strange dynamic happening here.
    … and I’m not so impressed with the police officer. This doesn’t smell right – in more ways than one 😉
    Kudos to young George next door though … he gets top points from me.

    My favourite line is at the very beginning – “trails of perspiration had invaded uninvited places”. HAHAHAHAHA! Every woman ‘of a certain age’ knows that one 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmm, I’m thinking Animal Control might be in for a surprise. Not so sure those remains aren’t human, after all…

    Great story, Tess!


  7. Wonder if she’s the Mathematician’s second wife……….


  8. “Uninvited places” – oh that’s so good! That’s a great opening and you’re so good at creating mystery. 🙂


  9. I’m with David on the first wife theory. Will there be more or are you going to let our lurid imaginations run wild?
    “…trails of perspiration had invaded uninvited places all over her body.” needs to go on a wall plaque or cushion. Love that. This story is invading my brain! 🙂


  10. Well, this one went in all kinds of unexpected directions, didn’t it?

    I must admit I was disappointed to learn that it wasn’t a human corpse.

    OR WAS IT? Come on! Out with it! The pansy mathematician whacked a guy, didn’t he?


  11. I think the husband knows more than what he is letting on. After all, he didn’t want Stella to dig in that part of the garden and gave up too easily. A great mystery that we’ll never know the outcome of…I guess?


  12. They must not have been living there long….bright officer, hey? This is just creepy. I do so enjoy how you are expanding your writing talent with action. Conversations as always say much more and lead us to different places. It always amazes how you are so good with dark things.


  13. “trails of perspiration had invaded uninvited places”. I love that line. I really do need to stop in more often. Your writing is wonderful and this story really has me wondering.


  14. Another good story, Tess. Like Stella, I’ve tried breaking through rock and packed dirt in my yard but have never dug anything up besides old roots…thank goodness! As others mentioned, the relationship between Stella and the Mathematician is interesting. And the cops response rings very true. Hope he’s right and it is an animal.


    • Thank so much for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed the read and for taking the time to comment. I hope he’s wrong about the animal as well. Can you imagine what kind of trouble he’d be in otherwise? I wouldn’t want to handle that stinky bag either. It might break. . . o_O

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Catching story. Thanks for sharing.


  16. Oooh, there seems to be quite a lot going on here. The story between Stella and her husband, what is in the bag? Did Stella know that was going to be there? Great mystery story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Awesome elements in this story, Tess. What a fun mystery this could make. Mega-Hugs!


  18. We-all know better. There’s something more than animal in that bag–and Husband will solve the mystery with his math. I have no idea how.


  19. Nice usual flair of suspense Tess. Leave it to you to go from planting roses to something ominous. 🙂


  20. Oh my goodness, I wonder if it really was human remains? Is the odor really different between human and animal bodies? What a scary discovery! Nice dark story, Tess, this was intense and kept me thinking and wondering the whole time.


  21. I like the ambiguity in the story, but the subject matter kind of makes me shudder. Well done on provoking a reaction.


  22. Was not expecting the dead ‘dog’ or whatever it may be. Love the characters! …still I wonder…how in the WORLD did it get there?!


  23. There is SO much going on here. So many questions to ask. What is HIS problem? Love the invading sweat. 🙂 And would like to know the neighbor’s son a little better! 😉


  24. Ha!!! I was trying to read faster and faster to figure out what was in there!!! My heart was racing!!! LOL Gross though!!! I never thought that animals and humans would have different rotting odors. Great Story!!!


  25. Tess you have created all these small stories, small mysteries relationships and mysteries. So interesting! Just to plant a rose bush. Wonderfully done as always.


  26. I agree that there’s a lot going on. I hope the police response is a bit faster usually… Will there be more, Tess?


  27. You wrote this and then your computer started playing up…. Hmmmm
    Ghosts getting revenge? Lol


  28. I love reading your work. It is so fluid and well put together. I personally think its human and that cop, well he was not thorough and should be fired lol. Great job!


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  30. There’s nothing I could day that hasn’t already been said. 🙂 Great story. The descriptions were wonderful. I could feel that sweat! ♡♡♡


  31. Tess, you’re my hero. I love how you had several things going on in this story… a few possible hints about The Mathematician, the relationship between husband and wife, the odorous discovery – and then the dismissive cop. Really good stuff. 🙂